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The Descendants: A Novel (Random House Movie Tie-In Books) Paperback – October 4, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
When doctors are forced to honor her living will, Matt wants their daughters to be with him, and in the hospital visiting Joanie while they await her death. Alexandra, a seventeen-year-old model, returns home from boarding school on the Big Island and, accompanied by Sid, a friend from a previous school, determines she will live her own life, even under the eyes of her father at home. Scottie, the ten-year-old, an attention seeker at school and at home, continues to act out.
When Matt discovers that Joanie has been having an affair, to which he had been oblivious, he is at a loss, and his internal dialogue and self-examination begin in earnest. He wonders about her lover and whether he should encourage this "love of her life" to share Joanie's last days in the hospital. His search for Joanie's lover and the resulting discoveries lead to important lessons and new awareness of his own responsibilities.
The clear presentation of events, exceptionally realistic dialogue, and unique imagery give life to this strong debut novel, and the narrative speeds along.Read more ›
Kaui Hemmings' novel is low-key, unornamented, but richly textured with the complicated social and physical realities of Hawaii - a part of the United States that is by turns very familiar and as exotic as farthest Asia. Matt King and his two troubled daughters, Scottie and Alexandra, are trapped in a tragedy not entirely of their own making, and yet manage to hold onto each other to find their way together into something like happiness. The double gift of this elegantly spare book is that it tells us about an America few of us know, even if we've visited Hawaii as tourists; and it also lays out a searing historic moment in the life of this unique American family that is painful in its realism. I have never read a book that focuses on a great unhappiness, but also manages to capture both joy and humor while doing so. It is one of the few books made into films that made my appreciation of the movie greater in the reading of the book.
This is a character-driven novel and it was fascinating to experience the evolution of Matt King and his daughters throughout the story. They're not likable people but Kaui Hart Hemmings provides just enough of an intersection of tension (wife's in coma, discovers she was having an affair, potential sale of family land etc) to reveal the different dimensions of each character. She's truly masterful in capturing the complexity of being human with all of one's flaws and redeeming qualities. Just when I thought I disliked a character like Alex, the wild self-centered teenage daughter, she does or says something that shows she's capable of empathy and caring for her father. Isn't that what happens in life? You judge someone - they're selfish, they're rude, and then they do something or say something and you realize it's not that simple.
You discover they're kind, or loyal.
I also thought the author did an amazing job of making Joanie, Matt's wife who's in a coma, come to life through the thoughts and descriptions of her from Matt, her daughters Scottie and Alex, friends and extended family. Even though she's lying unconscious in a hospital bed, she is really springs to life throughout the book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent read, and more interesting because of the setting . I enjoyed the movie first, but the novel as well later on.Published 20 days ago by Victor L. Jordan
Matthew King, the protagonist of this novel, lives in Hawaii and owns, with his relatives, most of the land of the island. Why? Read morePublished 1 month ago by ana ovejero
First I saw the movie, the gist of which I thought at the time to be the touching transformation of the rebellious and sullen 17 year old Alex into a surrogate mother to her... Read morePublished 2 months ago by MaineLarryCrane
I loved the movie and decided to read the book. The movie came very close to the beautiful book. Despite the dark premise this is actually an uplifting book.Published 2 months ago by James
I tried reading this book when the movie came out but never got around to it. I finally sat down and finished it in a day. It's addictive and beautiful. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Danyel Nicole Hess
It's as good as the movie, maybe even better!! Characters are all interesting, and couldn't put it down. Will read her other books, too--I love the writer's stylePublished 2 months ago by Lester Morton
My wife is Hawaiian, 1/4 Native Hawaiian, and of course a number of other races, i.e. hapa (Hawaiian for mixed-race). Read morePublished 3 months ago by Pepe Wolf
No wonder a super good movie was made from this book. Clean, clear writing, fabulous characters, a story of humanity during great duress and emotional pressures and trauma. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Daisy's mum